Sean Lock: I’m a purple van man

Sean Lock in TV Heaven TV Hell
Sean Lock in TV Heaven TV Hell
Oliver! by Petersfield School in rehearsal before showing at The New Theatre Royal

Petersfield School is asking: 'Please sir can we have some more?' as it puts on Oliver! at The New Theatre Royal

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The Chertsey-born stand-up explains: ‘People are always asking the opinion of white van man.

‘I was listening to the radio in a white van, and they were talking about what white van man believes.

‘I was thinking, “I don’t subscribe to those opinions. Maybe I should get a different-coloured van”.’

The 50-year-old comic continues with a laugh: ‘I don’t actually have a purple van, but it indicates the different section of society that I fall into.

‘Being a Purple Van Man means I have my own perspective on things.

‘How would Purple Van Man be different from other people?

‘ I think it’s a way of saying that you won’t get your normal fare with this show.

‘It is a slightly different style of comedy.

‘It’s not just meat and two veg, although I hasten to add that I do provide a full menu with a happy finish!’

He adds: ‘Purple Van Man is a state of mind. Maybe I should have called it Purple Van Land.’

Sean’s Purple Van frame of mind has seen him win over audiences across the country in stand-up and on the TV in Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, QI and Mock the Week.

He’s also made a name for himself as a very funny team captain for the last 14 series of Channel 4 panel show, 8 out of 10 Cats.

He says: ‘8 Out Of 10 Cats helps enormously because people are now used to the style of comedy I do.

‘They come to see me knowing what I do. That way, you build up an audience.’

As for the success of the hugely popular comedy quiz show, he adds: ‘8 out of 10 Cats is still going after all these years because we work at it.

‘There is hardly any format to the show. We only get asked four questions an episode.’

And Sean is open about how the comedy panel show format works.

‘We know we have to generate our own material, so we sit down and write stuff beforehand,’ he reveals.

‘You couldn’t be spontaneous without having the confidence of having prepared something to talk about.’

Sean, who is a previous winner of a Time Out Comedy Award and a British Comedy Award, is really looking forward to taking his Purple Van ethos on the road.

He explains: ‘I haven’t toured for three years.

‘I like to have a break to generate a bank of new ideas that I can then turn into stand-up.’

He says he’s got plenty of material, gags, opinions, observations and silly voices.

And he promises to ‘make you laugh like a drunken horse’, if you come to one of his shows.

‘It’s great to hear people laughing at jokes you have constructed.

‘That’s a really good feeling. You want to hear people hooting in the audience – that’s quite a thrill.

‘To make people feel like that is really nice thing to have done.’

But Sean admits there is a downside to life on the road. He struggles to wind down after a night on stage.

‘You get an enormous surge of adrenaline on stage.

‘I use part of my persona – let’s call him Larry, as it helps to identify him – to make the show work.

‘I get Larry out of the box to help me on stage.

‘But after the show, Larry doesn’t give a toss about tomorrow.

‘He goes, “right, I’m out now. Let’s have fun!” And you say, “we can’t go out in Leicester on a Tuesday night. Where are we going to go? You have to get back in the box”.

‘After the show, it’s impossible to read.

‘Larry is not in the least bit interested in books.

‘He says, “You can’t get me prancing around on stage for two hours and then offer me a book”.

‘Sometimes I’ve had to wrestle Larry to the floor as he has tried to open the door.

‘I’ve had to punch him a few times.

‘It made the next night hard, as he didn’t want come out of his box!’

On a more serious note, Sean says that, despite his tour having a title that highlights his alternative side, his comedy has no agenda.

He says there is a difference between stand-up and pure comedy and that his act falls into the latter category.

‘There is a difference between a comedian and a stand-up,’ he explains.

‘I see myself as a comedian.

‘I would sacrifice any agenda if I didn’t think it was funny.

‘I don’t see the show as a platform for my views.

‘If I didn’t think a line was funny, I wouldn’t put it in the show.

‘I don’t have an axe to grind.

‘The show is very silly, but I think it works very well,’ he explains.

A DVD of the Purple Van show will be recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo in September and go on sale later in the year, concluding a successful 2013 for Sean.

The comedian says he is content with his lot.

‘I feel very happy.

‘It’s great. You sit down every now and again to see where you are and think, “that is actually something to be considered”.

‘We shouldn’t necessarily be in the now all the time thinking, “so-and-so has done better”.

‘I’m very pleased with where I am.

‘And, as I hear about friends losing their jobs, I know I’m very lucky I got into this business when I did.

‘I’m very fortunate that I found the right job.

‘I don’t know what on earth I would have done if I hadn’t got into comedy.’

Perhaps he would be driving a purple van for a living.

Sean Lock comes to the Kings Theatre, Southsea, on Wednesday, May 29, from 7.30pm.

Tickets: £21 from (023) 9282 8282 or